Abi Ramanan is one of the ten finalists in the instantprint Inspirational Business Awards, read more about her story and her business, Papi’s Pickles in this interview.
1.) What has been the toughest part of setting up your business and getting to where you are now?
After a long time spent working in the charity sector, I really wanted to build a business that was financially self-sustaining, and not reliant on grant funding. We started with a few thousand pounds and all the profits were reinvested in paying salaries for the women we work with. I didn't take a salary for a year and a half and worked alongside running the business often six or seven days a week, which can be tough but is fairly common when starting out!
There are definitely overwhelming moments, when you're chopping onions again at 3am or haven't had a day off in weeks, but it is always worth it. We are working with a group of people who have no other way to really access employment, which is flexible and supportive, and very rewarding, but it is hard when there are constant legislative changes around work permits, etc. I recently got some funding from UnLtd so I am able to focus on growing Papi's Pickles, which is really great!
2.) Why did you enter the inspirational business awards?
I think the story of Papi's Pickles needs to be shared far and wide.
3.) What do you think makes your story so inspirational to other small business start-ups? And why do you think you deserve to win?
As a social enterprise, I think that we demonstrate that business can be a force for good, and for positive social change, not just for making profit. In the future, all businesses will have to be built on principles of sustainability and community, alongside revenue and we are proud to be part of a growing movement.
Lack of opportunities for women is still a huge global problem, and this is acutely felt for women from refugee and migrant communities where the differences in employment are considerable despite the difference in abilities being negligible – this is where we seek to have impact and hopefully inspire others to use business to tackle social and environmental problems in their communities. We deserve to win because we will reinvest all the money in furthering our social objectives.
4.) If you could give one piece of advice to small business start-ups, what would it be?
Get advice from as many people as possible before starting and do a lot of research into the market, your target audience and your competitors. Have one or two good mentors to guide you along the way but always go with your gut.
5.) If you win, what do you plan to do with the prize money and promotional products?
We plan to reinvest the money to further our social aims of employing more South Indian and Sri Lankan women and we use instantprint quite a lot already for our business cards, event flyers, etc, but we would get some lovely printed portraits of our chefs for the kitchen made.
You have until Sunday 6th December to vote for Abi & Papi's Pickles as Britain's Most Inspirational Business.